Most of the Congressional debate for health care reform revolves around ways to extend reimbursement for sick care. However, paying for more of the same fragmented, costly care isn’t reform, it’s madness.The $2.2 trillion health care system, the costliest in the world, requires a new top-to-bottom vision, and although the 600 doctors and health professionals gathered at the Institute of Medicine’s Summit on Integrative Medicine last month didn’t agree on everything, they reached a resounding consensus about the need for Americans to change their health habits. Yet how can that best be accomplished?With a primary shift toward health promotion, disease prevention and wellness, a revamped health care system could put the brakes on the disastrous trajectory predicted for 2012, in which total health care costs would equal 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Providers, employers, and even insurance companies finally concede that the US would fall behind the world’s nations in every imaginable sector if one out of every dollar of our productivity went toward health care costs.For over 30 years, the National Wellness Institute has been reporting that 8 out of 10 Americans suffer from chronic ailments derived from unhealthy lifestyles: poor diet, inadequate physical activity and unmanaged stress. Yet the difficult task of behavior change has always fallen on individuals, without much support from the medical system or their doctors.In addition, cultural support has been lacking for the most at-risk populations, often minorities with higher rates of diabetes and obesity. At present, there are more obese Americans than overweight ones-an almost unthinkable statistic.Cultural support for healthy lifestyles starts with community activists demanding bike paths, public parks, safe streets, farmers’ markets, fresh food options and more from their local governments. Together with cooperation from industry, government, health care, and public health officials, pressure can be placed on developers to build environments that provide opportunities for physical activity. Teachers, parents and consumers can demand that Big Food stop advertising cheap, non-nutritious, calorie-dense, processed foods to kids and young adults. Schools can offer nutrition and PE classes again, and lunch programs can teach kids about healthy choices-and provide them!Should Your MD Get Paid to Teach Wellness?”Lose weight, stop smoking, start exercising, and cut down on your stress-and I’ll see you next year for your physical.” Everybody knows that the once-a-year admonition from your doctor rarely translates into new health habits.A new tier of health coaches can supply the support and encouragement needed for Americans to begin their journey towards maximizing personal health. Health coaches should be part of every public clinic, medical office and hospital wellness center. They should be reimbursed by insurance companies, or be part of the first-access tier of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance companies and corporate wellness programs. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz suggested that health coaches should be considered a central part of health care reform to CNN’s medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta.Instead of medical doctors expecting to be reimbursed for providing health promotion and wellness services (at rates exceeding $200/ hour), health coaches could easily provide this service at one-fifth the cost. They would also present a more friendly, accessible, peer-support approach to individuals. The specialized training of medical doctors is best directed to complex cases, whether acute or chronic.The entire continuum of care needs to be re-examined and opened up to include reimbursement for health professionals that investigate the foundational causes of chronic illness, and who understand and have specialized skills in countering the ill effects of unhealthy lifestyles-professionals such as Nurse Practitioners, Naturopathic Doctors, and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, Homeopathic doctors, and Chiropractors.For too long, there has been an active collusion barring the advancement of these professions by certain medical organizations with insurance companies, and the public has suffered as a result.When these allied health professionals spoke up, demanding inclusion at the reimbursement table at the Summit on Integrative Medicine, a few medical doctors such as Dean Ornish, MD, championed this democratizing of the medical landscape, but others kept insisting that their own practices could accomplish wellness services, if only they were properly reimbursed.However, reimbursement for lifestyle counseling should not have to include the major overhead encountered by medical doctors, including their clinical offices, costly tuition loans, high-tech equipment, numerous staff and billing clerks.It’s been said that the US health care system is neither healthy nor much of a system. I believe it’s always darkest before the dawn of a new era, and these dark days of an ailing system must mean the light is about to break over the horizon.Bringing health coaches into the US health care system can address the colossal “elephant in the middle of the room”-that the burden of disease and related health costs can be dramatically lowered through healthy behavioral change. Learning to move more, eat well and less, and de-stress often, is not only a prescription for a better life, it’s an Rx for US health care reform.
I believe the year 2011 will be pivotal in the battle for an affordable and workable Health Care system that will serve the United States. If we will face the cold hard facts and develop a clear understanding of what a model system looks like, we can enjoy better individual health and economic prosperity beyond anyone’s belief system to comprehend. This first article of the New Year will lay out what a model system looks like and subsequent articles will give more details of how we can move toward a system that really works.With an ill-conceived “Obamacare” system taking effect this year, with no benefits for three years, the time has come to change my approach from “fixing” the system to “saving” the system. It is not my style to “scare” people into action, but the fact remains, if we do not stop this “Obamanation” in total, we are destined to become a third rate country with economic problems unlike anything our citizens have ever faced. Every single citizen needs to get involved now and stay involved for years to come because there will always be those who seek power to control our lives. Look around and see the symptoms. Already we have debt our grandchildren will be paying for, unemployment at never before seen levels and forecast to continue for years, freedoms neutralized or taken from us, and what do our leaders tell us? With obvious lies they tell us we are on the right track, and it will take years to make things better (better for who?). We need to take action NOW because the longer we allow these conditions to continue, the more devastating they will be and the longer it will take to fix them.So, let’s start with a clear understanding of what a workable system looks like. First, a free enterprise health care system that constantly adjusts to market conditions will best serve everyone. In other words, get politicians and government out of the business. Never in our history has any politician/government run program of any kind ever been successful, never!Step One to better health: Un-elect politicians who claim they will provide a health care program for you.Second, each individual needs to understand they have an individual responsibility to take better care of their health. Eating properly and exercising routinely will do more to improve one’s health and reduce future health problems than any “co-pay health plan”.Step Two to better health: Purchase only “catastrophic health care plans”. Everyone needs to realize that “co-pay plans” are not really what they seem. These plans are responsible for grossly increasing costs and are nothing more than financial plans to pre-pay for medical care one may or may not need as determined by an insurance company employee. It is my opinion that eliminating these plans would reduce costs by as much as 70% almost overnight.Third, take the profit for lawyers out of the industry. Lawyers do absolutely nothing to improve health care for anyone. Lawyers are nothing more than “vultures” hovering around hospitals looking for opportunities to sue someone.Step Three to better health: Individually we must learn how to vote and elect only politicians who will support the concept of taking all of the profit for lawyers out of the industry.Fourth, everyone must assume personal responsibility for their own health. Every individual has health concerns that are specific for them and individually should be responsible for learning to deal with them. To assume one can get healthy by going to a doctor, or a hospital, or by taking drugs (of any kind), or being covered by health insurance, is living in a fantasy world, it is not going to happen. Each of us owns something that will work to improve one’s health, and that is our own body. It was marvelously created to serve each of us and the better we take care of it, the better the results.Step Four to better health: Be responsible for your own health and learn as much as you can about the relationship of good health and your body.There you have it, a look at what health care should look like and some suggestions how to achieve good health. Subsequent articles will expand on thoughts I have that I think will be helpful to everyone. But, what questions do you have? I would love to hear from you with questions about health care. You can reach me on my website, www.TheHealthCareFix.com
Since, we don’t have a crystal ball, it is impossible to predict, accurately, the future! This is especially true, when, it comes to economic issues, including investment, real estate, interest rates, inflationary pressures, government actions, international factors, etc. What are the ramifications of inflation, recession, interest rates, Federal Reserve Bank decisions, etc? How can one, hedge – his – bet, in order to minimize unnecessary risks, while receiving a quality return, also? There is no simple answer, because so many factors, have significant influences. With, that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine and review potential factors, in order to help readers, have a more – complete understanding of the possibilities.
1) Interest rates: We have experienced a prolonged period of historically – low – interest rates. This has created easy money, because the cost of borrowing is so low. Both individuals and corporations have benefited, at least, in the immediate- term, permitting home buyers to purchase more house, because their monthly charges, are low, due to low mortgage rates. Corporate and government bonds, and banks, have paid low returns. It has stemmed, inflation, and created a rise in home prices, we haven’t witnessed, in recent memory. The Federal Reserve Bank has signaled they will be ending this propping – up, and will also raise rates, probably three times, in 2022. What do you think that will cause.
2) Auto loans, consumer loans, borrowing: The auto industry has been, significantly, impacted by supply chain challenges. When rates rise, auto loans and leases, will be more costly.
3) THis pattern began after the Tax Reform legislation, passed at the end of 2017, which created the initial, new, trillion dollars deficits
4) Government spending, caused by the financial suffering and challenges, because of shut downs, etc, because of the pandemic, created trillions more in debt. Unfortunately, debt must be eventually addressed.
5) Perception and attitude: The past couple of years,apparently, created a public perception, plus many fears, with a crippling economic impact.
Either, we begin to plan, effectively, and with common sense and an open – mind, many will be at – risk. Wake up, America, and demand better leadership, service and representation.